Masculine Discrepancy Stress, Teen Dating Violence, and Sexual Violence Perpetration Among Adolescent Boys



      Addressing gender norms is integral to understanding and ultimately preventing violence in both adolescent and adult intimate relationships. Males are affected by gender role expectations which require them to demonstrate attributes of strength, toughness, and dominance. Discrepancy stress is a form of gender role stress that occurs when boys and men fail to live up to the traditional gender norms set by society. Failure to live up to these gender role expectations may precipitate this experience of psychological distress in some males which, in turn, may increase the risk to engage in physically and sexually violent behaviors as a means of demonstrating masculinity.


      Five-hundred eighty-nine adolescent males from schools in Wayne County, Michigan completed a survey assessing self-perceptions of gender role discrepancy, the experience of discrepancy stress, and history of physical and sexual dating violence.


      Logistic regression analyses indicated boys who endorsed gender role discrepancy and associated discrepancy stress were generally at greater risk to engage in acts of sexual violence but not necessarily physical violence.


      Boys who experience stress about being perceived as “sub-masculine” may be more likely to engage in sexual violence as a means of demonstrating their masculinity to self and/or others and thwarting potential “threats” to their masculinity by dating partners. Efforts to prevent sexual violence perpetration among male adolescents should perhaps consider the influence of gender socialization in this population and include efforts to reduce distress about masculine socialization in primary prevention strategies.


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